With the rise and rise of electronics in vehicles of all sorts, events like the current Tokyo Motor Show are as gadget-packed as any computer expo these days. Some of the latest car gadgets seen there this week certainly caught our collective eye.
One of the most predictable has been the first in-car Blu-ray player, which is on show at the Panasonic stand. Although commercial plans are unclear - after all, HD TV doesn't really matter on a small screen - it's inevitable that next-gen disks will edge out DVD players and DVD-based sat-nav systems in vehicles before long.
Full BD support
The Panasonic player - seen, along with the other gadgets in photos from Japanese site AV Watch - supports the interactive BD-Java menu system and is being demonstrated connected by HDMI to a 7-inch LCD screen.
Over at the Pioneer stand, there are two futuristic technologies that aren't however, as sure to find long-term acceptance. Most unlikely is a 3D dashboard that includes gesture recognition. The idea is that waving a hand at the display instructs the onboard computer to change the music or plan a new driving route, for example.
Driving us daft
Otherwise, the second driver-assistant robot we've seen this week takes the form of a penguin that dances on the dashboard. Like the PaPeRo 'bot we looked at before, Pioneer's unnamed mech is supposed to gauge a driver's mood and deliver pep talks and the like.
Even more frivolously, it can take photos of car passengers and display them onscreen for endless fun and games on long journeys. Whatever happened to a good book, eh?